I’ve written a lot of posts about Syracuse Orange sports in the past ten years. Too many, you might say. Most of them have been lost to the search engine of time but every now and then I would put together something I was particularly proud of. The Octonion always has a special place in my heart but re-formatting and network changes have unfortunately messed with most of those early posts. For the best really considering how the shoddy quality of the photo alignment (It was the Aughts, we didn’t know better).
But I did go back and dig up a few posts that I’m particularly proud of that also remain readable. There’s probably no better time than this anniversary to put them together. It also makes for a fun trip down memory lane, like a TNIAAM-based 30 for 30, only this one is called 4 for 10, which doesn’t really make sense. For us, that’s perfect.
This might be self-serving and obnoxious, but, isn’t that what drives blogging anyway?
Andrew Robinson might be the greatest Syracuse quarterback who never was. As I mention in the piece, there was a time when he and WR Mike Williams were going to be the Dungey - Etta-Tawo of their day. That both fizzled out was perhaps a damning indictment of Greg Robinson’s tenure but also tribute to the futility of that era.
These days, if a quarterback gets demoted or told they’re not going to play the position anymore, they’re pretty likely to transfer. They are well within their rights to do so, but Robinson decided to put his head down, try his best at a new position, and represent the Orange to the best of his ability. In a way, he was the prototype by which we hope all our student-athletes face adversity.
I still feel like the kicker works, too.
Five years from now, Mike Williams will probably be something of a known quantity around the country. At the very least, he'll be a name on a fantasy football add/drop list. Andrew Robinson will have disappeared from the nation's consciousness long before then, probably already has. But I guarantee you that, five years from now, if you see both of them walking on the Syracuse quad, you'll shake Andrew's hand first.
We appreciate what Mike Williams did at SU, but we admire Andrew Robinson. And we always will.
Taking shots at Pat Forde seems to be a running motif in these pieces but it starts here. This was a reaction to the way the Yahoo! Sports columnist interpreted Jim Boeheim’s demeanor during the early days of the Bernie Fine scandal.
Jim Boeheim has been a fantastic teacher for the past ten years. He’s shown me that that even a man like him is a nuanced creature with depth you only get to see in rare occasions. He’s reminded me time and time again that what you see is not always what you get. And that how he reacts externally is not always how he feels internally.
I felt like Forde was incapable of seeing that (which explains why so many of his best pieces are about taking down obvious targets) and it needed to be said. A basic understanding of human beings tells us that sometimes we laugh when we’re scared and sometimes we say we’re okay when we’re not. That’s what I saw when I watched Jim Boeheim speak that day. I saw a man terrified and processing it the only way he knew how.
Boeheim got up there Tuesday and the first thing he did was crack a joke. Folks like Pat Forde and Rick Reilly took that to mean he didn't grasp the severity of what was happening. Me? I saw in Jim Boeheim the same exact reaction I make when I realize the dishes I just washed are still sopping with grease.
He deflected. He was passive-aggressive. He tried in vain to get out of it.
He was me.
This might as well have been a companion piece to the previous one, albeit three years later. This time Boeheim was getting chastised for his comments about players going pro early. I’d been at this game long enough to know how the sausage was made and I watched as all the predictable outlets made the same predictable arguments and took the same predictable shots. It just made me think about how we’ve all decided to process information and opinions on the internet these days.
There’s an easy way to see the world and there’s a hard way to see the world. You can look at what’s on the surface or you can notice the complexities that give it shades of
gray platinum. Once again, Jim Boeheim had made me think of that.
Whatever you think of James Arthur Boeheim, you are probably correct. And you are also almost certainly wrong. Because I'm willing to bet that when you think of him, you think of one thing. A specific attribute.
He's whiny. He's a jerk. He's cruel. He's defensive. He's funny. He's a curmudgeon. He's nice, actually. He's a bad person. He's a good person. He's a liar. He's selfish. He's generous.
God, this was just so much fun to write. And I was blown away by the reach it got but also so pleased that it seemed to say what so many Syracuse fans wanted to say in that moment. As SU made it’s way to the Sweet Sixteen, the disdain so many people had for us was palpable and it’s always a pleasure to give people like Doug Gottlieb, Seth Davis, and Pat Forde the metaphorical finger when it’s called for.
Forde never did say anything about getting called out on that narrative switch and I’m almost positive he saw it. That makes me smile.
In closing, we want you to know that this run to the Sweet Sixteen does not reflect our core values. This is not what Syracuse Basketball is about and it is not what we stand for. We are consulting our pastors, rabbis, and imams for guidance at this troubling hour. We are deeply disappointed that our dominating performance so far has overshadowed the gritty play of Duke, the classy way North Carolina carries themselves, and whatever it is any non-ACC teams that happen to be left in the tournament are like.
We are ready to put this chapter behind us and move forward towards a better NCAA Tournament and a better America.
Probably should have apologized for what happened the following week, too.